Today was a great day for me and Aiden. We spent some time listening to music together, baked banana muffins, and played Candy Land (followed by the imaginary adventures of the gingerbread man that stretched my skills at pretend play). Aiden practiced his piano lessons, played outside, created silly games about battling the mist coming from the humidifier, and had about 45 minutes of screen time. There was also some weird experiment he worked on in the bathroom that involved cardboard and water and a big mess that he then got to clean up. Then he attended taekwondo class and we sat down for dinner as a family. All in all, it was a typical Monday. In a bit when we get ready for bed Matt will read to him for about 30 minutes and then he will tag out and Aiden will read me a couple of books and we will chat about whatever is on his mind (usually something about space, architecture or deep theological questions) while we snuggle.
I have been feeling more and more convicted lately to let go of the pressure to "do kindergarten" this year. I often think about the fact that if we were going to send Aiden to school, one of the brick and mortar variety, we would have delayed his start anyhow. Not to mention the fact that in our state homeschool students aren't even recognized until age 6 (which he will not be until after the school year ends). Yet I spent several months trying to force us into some sort of school day routine. I fought against the frustration of not having enough time to do it all (marriage, parenting, school, ministry, work, friend, etc), without ever considering the idea that perhaps my approach to homeschool is what I needed to change.
A big part of my struggle is that Aiden has been learning at lightening speed without me pushing it at all. Those books he will read me tonight? I would guess they will probably be at least 1st or 2nd grade level. And that is without me formally teaching him to read. He started working on fractions on his own the other day. He has always been able to learn songs and short stories after hearing them only a couple times. His Bible knowledge is growing all the time. He knows facts about the planets that I have to look up to keep up with him. He is just a little sponge. So I worry... if I don't keep pouring into his education now will he suffer? But then I remember that I didn't really teach him most of that stuff to start with. I have always provided materials and encouragement more than lessons. I have made myself available to research whatever topic he gets hooked on for the day or week. We read like there is no tomorrow. This is how he has learned probably 75% of what he knows.
I worry about what people will think if I can't show them completed workbooks or my detailed lesson plans. I let myself get wrapped up in the idea of this being a personal failure to be organized and focused enough. I pick out the worst of days to use as a yardstick for how we are doing... instead of looking at days like today. Nice, normal days when learning surely happened even if I can't point to specifics. I need to let myself look at this little boy that I spend my days with and see him as a 5-year-old who is still just a little kid. He seems so much older sometimes because he is smart and funny.
I am learning to trust myself. It is a slow process, but I see evidence of it here and there. There is no need for me to rush this process of parenting. There is no need to rush Aiden through his childhood. We are both learning, and we both need time to go at our own pace. So, if tomorrow is like today was, I will be happy. If tomorrow Aiden wakes up and wants to do Math worksheets and handwriting pages (it happens!) I will be equally happy. And if tomorrow goes absolutely bonkers and I end up turning on pbs kids just so I can get through the day... well, I will know that it is only one day in what I hope will be a very full childhood of learning and life experiences.
Do I still think of myself as a home educator? Absolutely! Will Aiden continue to proudly tell people he does homeschool kindergarten? Yep! Am I going to get hung up on what exactly that should look like? I want to say no, but a more accurate answer would be that I will try not to. Instead I try to focus on the picture of family that comes from God's Word, and how I can prepare my child (and myself) to live and serve as a member of the body of Christ. The rest will come together if I start my focus there. Of this I am confident.